CIDA Award Submission

“ –Whatever you say, say nothing” Seamus Heaney

Men’s mental health is a growing issue in today’s society. Being from Northern Ireland, I have seen this problem manifest prominently there. Northern Ireland has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK, with most of these being men between the ages of 35 and 44. Joe Wallen illustrates the continuous effect of conflict prominently by stating, “The country struggles to escape the trauma of the troubles”.

The starting point for this project was the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland and the impact that can still be felt today. This is particularly notable within the male population and is discussed by Karen Nickel in her thesis. She says that women were concerned about their “menfolk” who were, “hiding their emotions behind an angry silence”.

As a textile designer I wanted to communicate, albeit abstractly, some of the emotion and energy that surrounds things that have gone unsaid. I have explored this idea through a collection of bold knitted fabrics for menswear fashion. Fashion can be used as a mirror for society; a reflection of what has been happening in Northern Ireland and a commentary on it. My primary visual research focused on industrial spaces within predominantly Protestant and Catholic cities across Northern Ireland. I took close up photographs of worn out textures and surfaces that visually embody the narrative of my project.

Through a process led exploration of materials, I developed an experimental yet methodical design approach to the development of colour, pattern and structure. I then created a collection that plays on the jarring and discordant which explores unknown narratives prominently. I have showcased the fabrics as contemporary, high end Menswear.

LP Unknown Narratives

LP Discordant Textures

LP Texture board (1)

LP Colour Board

Colour & dying yarns

Final collection 1

Final collection 2

Final collection 3

Degree Show Project

In September of this year, I began my Degree Show Project. At the beginning, I wanted my project to be a commentary of Northern Ireland as a place, delving into how the country’s past has affected the current residents.

We began drawing in our first week back. I had taken photos, while at home, of textured surfaces. Many of the surfaces were wearing away; beginning to crack and erode. These surfaces were showing signs of many layers, which were being exposed underneath areas of wear.

The photos below show my starting points for drawing material.


Naturally Curated Colour

Creating a Still Life Colour Palette

At the SDC Scottish heat (2019) we were able to take part in a workshop. The workshop fit perfectly with the Competition theme, ‘Colour and Nature’. We were tasked with creating a still life colour palette by designer Emily Mae Martin. She talked brilliantly about her work, focusing on sustainable slow fashion and natural dying techniques.



Artist Statement for ‘Colour and Nature’ Project

‘I See the Sea and the Sea Sees Me’


When presented the brief of ‘Colour and Nature,’ I initially thought of shells as a theme because of the beautiful contrast of neutrals and bright colours that are present in many different shells. Something that also interested me initially when focusing on shells, is the different textures which I could explore through drawing and mark making. I have collected shells on the beach for years, gathering them on the basis of my favourite colours and textures.

My colour theme came from the mainly neutral tones in my initial drawings, combined with an iridescent blue. This type of blue, which I used as my accent colour, came from the lines on the Blue-Rayed Limpet shell. I came across different types of biomimicry in shells, but found this shell had the most interesting explanation, especially for it’s colour. The blue lines are used by the shell, as a decoy. Predators of this shell mistake it for a poisonous snail, and subsequently it is left alone. The lines on the Blue-Rayed limpet are only visible because the shell material in those areas, which reflects the blue spectrum of light, while also absorbing the other colours.

Sustainability is an important aspect to any project, and I researched it from the beginning. I focused on finding a sustainable material that reflected that aspect of my project, and came across Seawool. It uses a mixture of crushed mussel shells and recycled plastic bottles, then it is spun into thread. The benefits of this product include qualities such as natural insulation, it is wrinkle free and it naturally stops odorous bacteria from growing.

When interpreting my sketchbook work into a knit outcome, I focused mainly on lines and texture. My outcomes represent a compositional body of work, looking at the shapes presented in my sketchbook and placing them strategically into my knits. I like to treat my knit samples as an extension of my sketchbook, almost as if I was simply completing another page.

When thinking of a final outcome for this project, I took time to reflect on my love of being by the sea, and collecting shells. I decided to use this project as a reminder of how serene and happy I feel while by the sea. It is the place where not only myself, but many people find a true oneness with nature. I decided to create a line of socks adorned with motifs of my deigns, serving as a reminder of the seaside. The socks would allow me to physically ground myself in the place I feel the happiest. Comparing the soft flow of the knit through my fingers reminded me of the feeling of soft sand my toes. This is thought is where the beginnings of my concept designs truly came from.

‘Colour and Nature’ (PT3)

Beginning to Knit

I have the began the process of sampling. Taking my drawings exploring colour, shape and texture to the material.  I have began to see how each piece can be developed further, onto a better and more finished sample. Discussed incorporating more bright colours; using them as accents to the neutrals.


SDC ‘Colour & Nature’ Competition

Initial Drawings

We were invited by the SDC to explore the theme of ‘Colour & Nature’.  The brief asked us to consider: how we see colour, light, natural versus synthetic, natural dying, sustainability, biomimicry and what inspiration we can take from nature.

I chose to focus on shells for my project. Shells remind me of youth, collecting them on the beaches on the North coast. It was this personal memory that made me choose them.

For these images below I used my own collection of shells as references. While drawing, I focused on line, texture and subtle colour at this point. These drawing were interesting images to develop from.


Verdant Works Embroidery

Our class brief was to create a wall hanging inspired by Verdant Works, Dundee. When we visited the textile mill I drew from the vast drawing subjects that was available around me. The machinery is so detailed, it was interesting to draw. I then focused mainly on developing imagery from the round textured cylinder. The textures and motifs I created from drawings were then formed into a compositional panel.

Quick sketch with Quink ink.
Textured drawing
My embroidery layout and plan.
My full panel in the centre.
Close-ups of the embroidery.